Nico Hulkenberg admits that he feared time running out on his F1 career had he not made the decision to rejoin Force India for 2014.

Having been passed over by Lotus in favour of the well-backed Pastor Maldonado, Hulkenberg was effectively left with the choice of remaining with Sauber or returning to Force India. However, with other drivers being linked to both seats, he knew that he could not afford to dally, even if results in the second half of the 2013 season had reconfirmed his talent and desirability.

"For me, really, at some point, I had to take a decision on my future - not to be left without a seat," he confirmed to Sky Sports, acknowledging that both options possessed the ability to be competitive.

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Force India started 2013 strongly, aided by an affinity to the latest Pirelli tyres. When safety issues then forced a change of rubber for the second half of the season, however, the Silverstone-based team's fading fortunes coincided with resurgence at Sauber, where developments to the C32 allowed Hulkenberg and rookie team-mate Esteban Gutierrez to make more of an impact.

While Lotus remained Hulkenberg's primary target - the Enstone team having been a proven podium contender over the past two years - Maldonado's signing closed that door. Sauber made a late bid to retain the German's services, while he reveals that talks with Force India extended back a long way into the season.

"We were in contact all year long and, in Malaysia, after the race, we had a coffee together and we were talking about the season," Hulkenberg revealed, "Obviously, at that time, they had the upper hand, a very competitive car, [but] I really felt they wanted me. They were able to answer the questions I wanted and give me the info I needed and was asking [for]. That was different to other people.

"Therefore, I made the decision to come here. I have good trust and belief in this team that we can put something together which will allow us to have some special results."

Having spent a year as reserve with Vijay Mallya's squad, Hulkenberg was promoted to the race team alongside Paul di Resta for 2012 and scored 63 points from 20 races, claiming one fastest lap and eleventh overall into the bargain. Having moved on to Sauber for 2013, he returns to Force India unaware of whether the Scot will still be there to partner him.

di Resta's position is under threat from both current Force India team-mate Adrian Sutil and former Sauber and McLaren driver Sergio Perez, while Caterham's Giedo van der Garde has also been mentioned in the mix for 2014. Hulkenberg, however, insists that he does not mind who lines up alongside him, provided it makes the team better.

"It doesn't really matter for me, to be honest," he confirmed, "I want to have a strong team-mate, one which is challenging me and I can challenge him - because that way we're pushing each other and the team forward.

"I know there's a few names around in the press but it's not my decision; it's the shareholders' decision and the team management and I'm sure it won't be long before we know."